What turned out to be my last business trip just before the COVID-19 pandemic took off, was actually one of the most profound in my 30+ years of business travel.
We had just partnered with Global Response Management (GRM), a Non-governmental organization to provide access to the Isabel differential tool for their clinicians.
The journey started with an inquiry from their Director of Strategic Plans who, as it turned out, had used Isabel as a Nurse Practitioner in Florida. As we talked, she shared the mission of GRM and the work they are doing in the asylum seeker/refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico. This camp is home for people seeking asylum in the US. The tent city houses over 3,000 refugees living in remarkably close confines just across the river from Brownsville, TX. GRM relies on highly trained medical volunteers to staff the clinic seven days a week, seeing between 40-50 patients per day. They have also created a safe space for children that is open daily. After talking with the Director and learning about the work they do and care they provide, the decision to provide Isabel access became a no brainer. “How can we not support these caregivers?”. So, the journey began.
I was invited to the mobile clinic camp in mid-March to provide training for the medical team volunteering that week. Once in Brownsville, you cross the border and the first thing you notice is the campfire smell that permanently permeates the air. Then you see the tents, hundreds of them wedged between a fence and the Rio Grande and it hits you in the face – how do we treat these folks like this?
I spent the first three hours getting oriented to the clinic and camp, but mostly it was spent in quiet observation and contemplation. Walking through the camp you notice a lot of things. The camp is clean, there are hand washing stations throughout, there is a strong sense of community, kids are playing and the constant smell of smoke from the fires used for cooking, etc. You quickly realize these folks want what we all want; they are leaving everything they had in their homeland to seek a better life for their kids and family. After these first eye opening hours my thoughts turn to how do we help!
During the next 36 hours I was honored to meet the GRM volunteer staff for that weekend and the executive team planning their response for COVID-19. This is an incredibly dedicated and committed group that provide comfort and care for the camp residents; It was amazing to watch the compassion and care they provide; they are true heroes! I trained them on the remote installation and use of Isabel in the camp as they work up patients and hope it can help in their practice. We are immensely proud to be partnering with GRM and realize our participation is small compared to the dedication and herculean efforts of these clinicians!
As I left for home, I realized this would most likely be the last trip for a while as the COVID-19 pandemic was underway and I felt it was one of the most profound and proudest experiences in my 30+ years in healthcare!
Global Response Management (GRM) is an international medical NGO registered in the United States as a 501(c)(3) organization. We exist to bring emergency pre-hospital care and training to those living in or displaced from conflict zones in high-risk, low-resource areas. Our skilled medical professionals bring Trauma Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) principles and the latest technology to deliver the best possible care to patients on the worst day of their lives.